The Turkish soccer association has finally permitted its sanctioned teams to play in front of fans again—so long as those fans are women and children who will not riot and attack journalists.
Back in July, officials ordered that the Istanbul club Fenerbahce play two games without spectators as punishment for storming the field in the middle of a match against Shakhtar Donetsk and attacking members of the press. On Tuesday, the association distributed 41,000 free tickets to women and children to see Fenerbahce play Manisaspor in Istanbul with the hopeful thought that it would "bring 'the joy back to football.'" Here's more on the scene from the AP:
Before the game, Fenerbahce and Manisaspor players tossed flowers at the fans. The visiting team was greeted with applause, instead of the usual jeering, the Anatolia news agency reported.
"This memory will stay with me forever," Fenerbahce captain Alex de Sousa said. "It's not always that you see so many women and children in one game."
Manisaspor midfielder Omer Aysan added: "It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere."
The fans were searched by female police officers.
"This really is a historic day," Yasemin Mercil, a female member of Fenerbahce's executive board, said before the game. "For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game. The women know all the chants. The same anthems, the same chants will be sung."
Flowers and singing! It is rather amazing what a lack of alcohol and testosterone can do to a fan base.
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